St. Louis Iron Mountain &
Southern Railway
Jackson, Missouri

A History of Diesel Locomotive Number 5898

In 1998, the St. Louis Iron Mountain & Southern purchased a “new” locomotive…well, new to us anyway! The truth is that this locomotive has quite a history behind it. It was built by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors (also known as EMD) in 1950. It is designated as an E8 type diesel locomotive rated at 2,250 horsepower and capable of speeds up to 120 miles per hour. It was built new for the Pennsylvania Railroad to haul fast passenger trains such as the Broadway Limited. While on the Pennsylvania, the engine was assigned number 5898.

In 1971, the locomotive had traveled many miles for the Pennsy, but was not ready to be retired yet. It was sold to the newly formed Amtrak and pressed into service in the bust Northeast Corridor region hauling thousands of commuters each day. The locomotive was given number 497 while working for Amtrak.

The engine was sold once again in the late 1980’s, this time to a tourist railroad called the Blue Mountain & Reading in Pennsylvania. The BM&R restored the locomotive to its original Pennsylvania tuscan red paint and gold striped livery as well as returning it to its original number, 5898. The engine hauled many happy tourists, but after a few years, was deemed surplus once again.

In 1998, the BM&R was selling off its extra equipment. Chief Mechanical Officer of the Iron Mountain Railway, Danny Davis, made the trip to Pennsylvania to inspect the offerings. After returning, the board met and decided to fund the purchase of the 5898. Mr. Davis spent several weeks in Pennsylvania draining the old crankcase oil (which was full of water), cleaning, inspecting, and changing filters. After all this hard work, both of the 12 cylinder EMD engines roared to life. The engine was run around the BM&R yards for a couple of days to ensure it was ready for the trip to Missouri. It was attached to a westbound freight train and a few days later was delivered to the Iron Mountain junction in Delta, Missouri. It was fired up, and rolled the last 18 miles into Jackson under its own power to begin its new career.

The 5898 is an important part of the Iron Mountain Railway, and we hope you’ll come take a ride on this historic diesel locomotive.

Photos ©Copyright 1998 St. Louis Iron Mountain & Southern Railway - Jackson, Missouri USA

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Photographs of our restoration project on #5898

It's October 2011 and the major task of changing out the front three axles is about to begin.

Railroad wheels have a 'flange' on the inside of the wheel that holds it on the rail. Our flanges were starting to get too thin so the wheels needed to be replaced.

In order to remove the assembly that hold the wheels, knows as the truck, we had to have a large crane come in to lift the locomotive.
One very identifiable item on most Pennsylvania locomotives were the lifting rings which came in very handy for this project.

Once the locomotive was lifted, the old wheels (truck) were removed. We were able to locate a static display E8 in Alabama who's owner agreed to trade wheels with us since his unit was just for display. But traveling across several states to trade out wheels was no easy task.


Once the new set of wheels arrived back in Jackson, we had to reassemble the truck which contains the three axles, two of which have the traction motors attached to them.

we had to repeat the whole process of lifting the locomotive and rolling the newly assembled truck into place, then lower the locomotive onto the truck.

In the spring of 2012, with an idea from a six year old who loves trains, we began a Pennies for Paint campaign to have the locomotive repainted and brought back to it's original color scheme. A small setback in funding postpones much of the work to repaint the locomotive until the spring of 2013
The first step was to remove all the accessories and begin sanding the unit.

Once the nose/cap of the locomotive was sanded, and body work completed, a primer was added.

The plow was painted as a color test. Looking pretty good so far.

The cab has been painted and now to replace the accessories such as the head light, marker lights, number boards, hand rails, etc.

From the front it looks pretty good.

Now we will start on the sides.

2014 is to work on the back part of the locomotive now.

The old fiberglass sides, which has warped and could not be repainted, were removed from the fireman's side. Steel panels were installed.

The side panels have been removed on the engineer's side. This gives a great view of the two diesel engines.

The twin 12 cylinder 1500 horse engines turn 600 volt generators. These generators then power the traction motors mounted to four of the six axles as we saw in the wheel replacement above.

Stay tuned for more updates as the sides are primed and painted.

Another step in restoring the paint scheme of our locomotive. Next comes the stripes